Come now, you who say, “Tod ay or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. Therefore, to one who knows right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin (James 4:13–17).
This month we begin the next phase of our journey. My hope is that we will trust that the Lord is leading us to birth a new identity in healthy soil. I believe this is what we intended back in 2015, but did not fully understand what the 3- to 5-year forecast based upon what we see in ‘thriving’ churches around us”, while staying within our limited financial means. Then we did our best to fulfill those plans, yet have come up short of our expectations. We’ve not experienced tangible fruit from our outreach. We rely on canned music rather than a live, seeker-friendly and ear-pleasing sound from a polished praise team. We constantly talk about church finance. We’ve lost members, not gained.
Church, I believe we fell into the trap of which James warns. I think we got ahead of God’s will, and that never turns out well. But in His grace, He has given us another chance. We have another opportunity to become a healthy church, and I pray that we not make the same mistakes. Yes, there is, and always will be, some business and legal work associated with the church. We are going to have to be excellent stewards of our finances and walk the path that keeps us above reproach in the realm of the law. But we are also going to need a good understanding of who God is and who we are to God in Christ.
We must walk together in humility and surrender, seeking constantly to be in rhythm with His will. Yet, I think our ability to stay ‘locked in’ is best compared to a hitter in baseball. The best hitters get on base between 30 and 40% of the time…less than half. I think the successful Christian’s ‘on-base-with-God’ average is probably less than that. Hence, why we never see a perfect believer or a perfect church, including in God’s Word. But if we stay in His Word, surrender to agape, and humble ourselves to unity, we will have measures in place that will keep us from straying too far from His leading. That is challenge number 1.
The other challenge is to really allow the Lord to form us. We are a vapor in the wind; He is holy fire. He is the God of creation and inspiration. I pray that we will allow Him to reshape, redefine, and build anew our church. We do not know what that will look like, for there is no business plan or five-year forecast for that. But what I hope we do have is the willingness to walk by faith and not sight, and to declare with great confidence, “if the Lord wills…”
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